Canwest Global posts widened Q3 loss

Canadian broadcaster takes $212.5 mil impairment charge

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Canwest Global Communications Corp. continues to post losses as it negotiates a debt restructuring deal with creditors to stave off bankruptcy protection.

Winnipeg-based Canwest Global on Friday recorded a widened third quarter loss of CAN$109.6 million ($94.6 million) for the three months to May 31, against a loss of CAN$28.3 million in 2008.

Revenue fell 14% to CAN$727 million ($625.5 million), against a year-earlier CAN$846 million, to reflect weakened advertising markets.

The steep loss comes as the media group took a non-cash CAN$246.9 million ($212.5 million) impairment charge to reflect lower future profit expectations for its newspapers during the current economic downturn.

Revenue from publishing operations fell 19% to CAN$269 million ($231.5 million), while revenue from its Canadian TV business, including over-the-air stations and cable channels, was off 2% to $276 million.

Canwest Global CEO Leonard Asper told analysts that the current soft advertising market showed no early signs of improving.

"We do expect the economy to continue to challenge the media sector throughout the calendar year," he said.

Despite a soft TV ad market, Canwest Global has maintained its appetite for U.S. network programming, having paid CAN$367 million ($316 million) for new and returning series at the recent Los Angeles Screenings.

The broadcaster said it was hard-pressed to secure pricing decreases for its U.S. series in May as it has multi-year supply deals with the studios.

And Australian broadcaster Network TEN, in which Canwest Global has a controlling 57% stake, contributed revenue of CAN$151 million ($130 million), down 22% from year-earlier levels.

CanWest faces an end-July deadline to conclude a recapitalization deal with creditors likely to include a new cash injection and/or a debt to equity conversion.
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